Funds need to start flowing to the Flint community right away
LANSING, Mich. — Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) today proposed a plan that would provide resources to start removal of damaged infrastructure at no additional costs to Michigan taxpayers. He also highlighted ways to build upon the governor’s suggestion to refund customers so that it more accurately reflects the financial burden they have been dealing with.
“In addition to making sure we have safe water now, along with long-term support services for families affected, the best ways to show results on fixing this crisis are by refunding customers, replacing pipes and hiring Flint workers to help,” Sen. Ananich said. “These measures allow us to see action sooner rather than later, and in a way that residents will feel the changes.”
His proposal would eliminate a 2012 legislative drafting error that resulted in the state unknowingly paying out a tax credit to insurance companies. By correcting this error, the state would save $80 million annually — funding that would be dedicated to repairing Flint’s infrastructure. This would mean that the state could immediately begin digging damaged pipes out of the ground now, while having a significant financial resource to tap into for long-term infrastructure improvements as well.
With the infrastructure funding piece figured out, the state should immediately identify the lead service lines, begin the process of gaining access to the private lines, and finalize a plan to communicate with Flint water customers throughout the replacement process.
Sen. Ananich said the governor’s water credit plan should include all water costs and that if it did, the amount would likely rise to more than $50 million. With the recent news of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Flint, it is clear that no one has had a firm handle on when and how the water could have been safely used, so it would be better to pay Flint residents the full credit they are due — and not factor a percentage on their safety.
He suggested using the same source of funding — the unused portions of last year’s appropriations — and that refunds to water customers be delivered through another supplemental. If the money is placed in next year’s budget, the funds will not be available for several months, if they are approved at all.
“The governor is right to take on this problem of unfair bills,” Sen. Ananich said. “I hope he’s willing to work with me to get this legislature to act more swiftly and secure resources to fully address all facets of this crisis.”
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